Overton's Makes a Bigger Splash in Insert Media With Manager's Help

Though boating and water sports cataloger Overton's has offered insert media opportunities to its marketing partners since the early '90s, the programs have grown in the past few years with the help of an outside insert media manager.

Overton's began mailing its catalog in 1976, and by the start of the '90s the firm was the largest direct marketer of its kind. In 1993, Overton's launched an internally managed package insert program to allow its three strategic partners more exposure to its customer base, said Marisa Dore, vice president of marketing at Overton's, Greenville, NC.

“We had some major marketing partners, and we started the package insert program basically to give them more opportunity to communicate with our customers,” she said. “We have a very active base, and as long as it's a complement to what we're doing we like bringing these offers to our customers.”

Those partners were Chevrolet, Sea-Doo and Exide Battery. Throughout the '90s the program grew to include several more boat- and personal watercraft-related manufacturers as well as Progressive Insurance, which provides boat insurance. The blow-in/bind-in program also was added during that time.

“Our marketing partners are very long-term and very happy with the program,” Dore said. “When the programs proved effective for our marketing partners and beneficial to us, we decided to expand it beyond that scope and got an outside agency involved.”

Overton's chose an outside manager for the programs in late 2000/early 2001. Dore said the programs were successful but that the firm thought a more aggressive program manager could expand them further. The package insert program was moved to Bethel, CT-based List Services Corp. in June 2002.

“There were opportunities we thought were being missed, and LSC has really proven that to be true,” she said. “We've really grown that business quite a bit.”

Based on the growth, Overton's consolidated by moving its catalog blow-in/bind-in program to LSC as well. The Overton's mailing list also is managed there.

Aside from the obvious types of water sports-related offers, the Overton's programs should appeal to various marketers, Dore said.

“Though it's a very niche catalog, there are lots of other offers that would be a good fit for our customers,” she said. “It's a male-dominated database that is reasonably affluent with a mixture of younger and older people. They are very active people who are involved in health and fitness, have families and pets and are interested in other sports.”

The Overton's catalog buyer is mainly male with an age range of 25-45, household income of $40,000-$110,000 and an average order of $145.

“The Overton's insert programs are working well for high-ticket merchandise and men's offers,” said Bill Dreska, marketing manager at List Services Corp. High-end offers such as Oreck and Bose use the programs, he added, while the home and garden categories are picking up.

“What we're trying to expand to is more family-related offers,” he said. “Boating is a family activity in many cases.”

LSC also wants more tests from collectibles and continuity clubs.

Since boating and water sports are seasonal activities, Overton's is in its peak mailing season now, which is reflected by the number of insert opportunities in its catalogs and packages.

“It's a very seasonal business, and the season basically starts with January and February getting people excited about the season coming up,” Dore said. “March really kicks off with a lot of house file mailing and a lot of prospecting, then May and June are really the heat of the season.”

The catalog blow-in/bind-in program offers more than 15.4 million catalogs annually. The 2004 schedule included 915,000 in January, 1.7 million in February and 3 million in March. April has more than 1.4 million, May has 3.7 million and June has 1.7 million. Mailings taper off in July with 898,000 and August with 886,000 end-of-season sale catalogs. Holiday mailings reach 326,000 in October and 744,000 in November.

The package insert program consists of 353,000 annual shipments and really begins in March with 25,000 opportunities. The schedule estimates 35,000 for April, 55,000 in May, 60,000 in June, 50,000 in July and 35,000 in August. Limited quantities are available in the other months.

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